In Jason Boyett’s Pocket Guide to the Bible: A Little Book about the Big Book I came across his entry on the Holy Spirit, and it got me to thinking about my grandma, bless her heart.
Boyett’s entry says the “Holy Spirit used to be referred to as the ‘Holy Ghost,’ until the cultural meaning of ‘ghost’ changed and the term got too scary.” I’m not sure he got his history right, but I do know that my grandma only used his “too scary” of a term, and it was one word. She referred to the Holyghost, with an emphasis on the first syllable: so HOLyghost.
She was Holiness Pentecostal, loved Jimmy Swaggart and Oral Roberts, and once told me that someone she knew didn’t have enough HOLyghost in her to keep her saved for a week. I was in college, and that one got me to thinking about how much Holyghost one had to have to stay saved. She said that about a lot of folks, especially the teenagers in her church. (Please understand that I’m not making fun of her or any other charismatic.)
She also didn’t think anyone in her son’s family (my father’s) was truly saved because we hadn’t spoken in tongues, which was the dead-sure sign you had the HOLyghost. That meant me, so that too got me to thinking and wondering if I had the HOLyghost, which I was confident I had, ‘cept the speaking in tongues part.
So, while I was back in college, I read up on speaking in tongues, thinking that if I knew a little more maybe “it” would happen and then I could tell her I had the HOLyghost. I’m dead serious about this, and I’m not making fun of charismatics or pentecostalists. I read and read, and studied my Bible, and came to the conclusion that I should “just be open” to “it.” So I was.
More than once, and I don’t know remember how often, I would get alone, spend some time in prayer, and then just open my mouth hoping “it” would happen. Well, it didn’t, and the yearning to speak in tongues gradually went away though my dependence on the Holy Spirit (I had switched to the less scary term by then) went up. While in Seminary I rode to school for a year or two with an Assembly of God student who is now pastoring. We talked about this often, and I became convinced through more Bible study and conversations with folks like Steve Gage that speaking in tongues wasn’t for everyone, and that one could have the Holyghost without speaking in tongues.
I suppose plenty of you have stories about growing up with some charismatic family members who wondered about your salvation.